Five Questions With… Andrea Nixon
On her new album Diary Of A Housewife, Edmonton singer/songwriter Andrea Nixon follows in the footsteps of trailblazing female artists like Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton by bravely revealing herself through her music. In other respects, the album is strikingly modern, seamlessly combining traditional country elements with, at key moments, rough-edged pop and rock.
Tying it all together is Nixon’s irresistible, unaffected voice, capable of raging at an ex-lover on “You Didn’t Make Me,” while exuding pure charm on “Million Miles Away” and conveying an audible wink on the playful “Song Without A Name,” her latest radio single.
The album’s most powerful track, “Waiting For Sirens,” has led Nixon to partner with Project Wild and the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters to create the #SirenStories Tour, a charity campaign aimed at raising money and awareness for families affected by violence. Nixon has confirmed 10 emergency shelters visits and various performances in support of the cause around Alberta in August and September. Simultaneously, she will also produce a video series that will give a chance for frontline workers and survivors to tell their stories. Funds raised through the sale of custom designed merchandise, as well as direct donations, will go towards necessities for families in shelter.
For more info, go to andreanixon.com or follow her on Twitter at @AndreaNixonSong.
Diary Of A Housewife has a lot of classic country influences. When did you first get interested in that style?
My Portuguese-born-and-raised father and my mom, who is from the small town of Castor, Alberta, both shared a love of classic country. My dad listened to Patsy Cline and my mom sung Dolly Parton and Merle Haggard. My introduction to a lot of those tunes was my mother’s voice. She actually sang me "Sing Me Back Home" as a lullaby. When I got old enough to understand the lyrics, I came to the conclusion that the song was the most heartbreakingly beautiful tune I'd ever heard. When my heart gets tattered, I turn to those tunes to stitch me up.
Tell me about the idea behind the #SirenStories Tour?
This tour was born out of the song on the album. It was a song born out of my experiences teaching children from violent homes and realizing that we shared a common thread. When I was child, my father was terminally ill and I would wake at night, sit on my bed, look out my window and wait for sirens.
When I wrote the lyric to the tune, it was my way of understanding and connecting with those kids. Domestic violence is a silent plague. I am wholeheartedly invested in eradicating it in our province. This is a big job and requires substantial financial and physical support. I believe that the damage to both women and children done by domestic violence is profound and long lasting.
We need to talk about it and find solutions. We need to be reminded of the children who learn that wrong love is right and can't love themselves and others as a result. So the tour is all about travelling, performing and talking to women and children and gathering their stories so that the public can become engaged in the topic and become motivated to act. It is also a celebration of the incredible work done by frontline workers who make such an important and direct impact on the lives of those they serve.
What other songs on the album have special meaning for you?
“Stronger Than The Storm” is really reflective of my journey thus far. Trying to balance the demands of a family, side jobs so that I can afford to pursue music as an independent artist, and learning how to navigate the world as a singer/songwriter has been cumbersome yet so rewarding. People around me are affected by the decisions I make. I'm not so naive to think that this is a selfless thing I'm doing. It has required tons of faith, understanding and sacrifice from those I love. I've missed out on a lot of experiences with my friends and family and they've had to adjust and sometimes take a back seat to my dream. This song was written for them. I am the storm and they pull me out of the darkness. My loved ones and fans light the way.
What song by another artist do you wish you had written?
I wish I had written [Loretta Lynn’s] “Coal Miner's Daughter.” It’s my favourite tune. To me, the line "He shoveled coal to make a poor man's dollar" is the most profound lyric in country music. There is a world of difference between a poor man's and a rich man's dollar, isn't there?
What's your best touring story?
Last February, my guitar player Cody and I went to Toronto to showcase and network before the album’s release. We travelled there through Via Rail's amazing Artist on Board program. I was so blown away by the open-hearted nature of the experience. One evening after our last set, we had hours of profound conversations with passengers who became kindreds. Afterward, I was telling Cody how magical it all was and he said, "Yeah, we're all the same size here." He said it casually but the words impacted me profoundly. We're all the same size after all. That line inspired a poem I wrote about the trip entitled, “Ode to Toronto.”